When the new selection committee meets for the first time in Mumbai on Wednesday, all eyes will be on the batsmen they choose for the first two Tests against Australia. There is a strong chance that Sourav Ganguly will figure prominently in the discussion.
Broadly, there are two arguments in favour of his recall after the omission from the Irani Cup squad. One, the selectors don't want to risk a newcomer considering the quality of the opposition India will face. Two, few from the pool of possible replacements have done anything of late to suggest that they are ready for the test.
There is no question mark over openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. The same can be said about Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman. With M.S.Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma set to occupy the other berths in the XI provided they are fit, there is room for just one more. Unless the selectors, headed by K. Srikkanth, go for the unlikely option of a fifth bowler or an allrounder in the form of Irfan Pathan, this slot has to go to a batsman. Going by S. Badrinath's selection for the Irani Cup tie ahead of Ganguly, it can be assumed that the former has an edge over the former India captain. But according to someone whose inputs are going to be taken seriously at the meeting, Badrinath will face competition from Ganguly.
"There are a few alternatives," said an insider who claimed to have spoken to the new selectors. "Given that Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson form the frontline of the Aussie attack, you need someone who has the experience of handling such quality. Barring Sri Lanka, Ganguly has been India's most prolific batsman over the last two years."
What happens to the effort to look beyond the seniors in that case? "That has to be done in the near future, but not in the first two Tests against Australia," said the source. Ganguly's will be the keenest of those ears waiting to listen what happens in Mumbai.